Moby – Come On Baby

Moby

Attack of the Killer Track! is a series that explores tracks from artists from a variety of genres. Some of the tracks were singles, some of them were obscure b-sides or long forgotten album tracks. One thing is certain – all of them are killer tracks.

When you think of Moby, you probably think of radio friendly electronic music. Or perhaps Eminem dissing him in his 2002 hit single Without Me (side note, part of the diss related to Moby’s age at the time which was 36. Em’s in his 40’s now. Time’s a bitch, eh Marshall?). You could think these things and you wouldn’t be wrong. If you came across Moby in the mid 90’s though, you’d be thrown into quite a bit of confusion. Fresh off 3 electronic albums released from 1992 to 1995 that were starting to make Moby a household name he decided to throw a curveball. Feeling disillusioned by the lack of positive press, Moby released a punk rock album in 1996. Animal Rights might be the most misunderstood album of the 90’s – confrontational punk / metal tunes mixed with soothing ambient instrumentals, it was confounding. It also almost destroyed Moby’s career (we all know he recovered beyond his wildest dreams). Personally, it is my favorite record that Moby has ever released. The 1st single was a cover of Mission of Burma’s That’s When I Reach For My Revolver which received a bit of radio play. The 2nd single was Come On Baby – a slab of electronic punk metal. You’ve never really heard Moby like this before – and probably never will again. Guitars rage, sound f/x overwhelm and Moby shouts lines like “Love myself with a broken-hearted love / What I never saw what do I care? / You don’t want a sick celebration love / Think about a broken time was soulless”. The single was released in late 1996 and was backed by a death metal version of Devo’s Whip It (yes, I’m serious). By 1997 Moby was back to making electronic music almost exclusively (save for the odd Joy Division cover here and there) and would hit mainstream success in 1999. Some might look back on the Animal Rights punk rock experiment as a failure – I look on it as a glorious experiment that is still exhilarating 19 years later.

The Barmines – There’s Never Any Romance

Barmines

Brotherly love – I’m from the city that promotes it, but it isn’t always the easiest thing to live by. My brother and I are 3 years apart, which can be brutal during the teenage years. We had our moments of not getting along, though I’ll feign amnesia when asked if fists were ever raised. 15 years later we are worlds apart in New Zealand and Washington State. Pacific is the gulf between us. So it goes. In music, we’ve had the Gallagher brothers (Oasis), the brothers Gibb (Bee Gees), the Robinson brothers (The Black Crowes), among others. Sibling rivalry or sibling camaraderie? It doesn’t really matter as long as the music inspires. The Barmines are a new band out of Leeds, England composed of 2 sets of siblings. A potentially volatile mix, their debut EP is a masterful debut.

Continue reading

White Lion – Lonely Nights

white lion

Attack of the Killer Track! is a series that explores tracks from artists from a variety of genres. Some of the tracks were singles, some of them were obscure b-sides or long forgotten album tracks. One thing is certain – all of them are killer tracks.

I first bought White Lion’s Pride album at the Willow Grove Mall in Willow Grove, PA (on the site of the old Willow Grove Park) in 1987 or possibly 1988. The album had a few pop metal songs on the radio and on the surface seemed very much of the time period. Little did I know that this album was actually White Lion’s 2nd record and would enchant me for the next 25 years and counting (the 1st, Fight to Survive, is a much harder edged speed metal masterpiece from 1984). Digging beneath the pop metal surface, the album featured amazing guitar work from Vito Bratta, world-weary lyrics & vocals from Mike Tramp, and a solid rhythm section (Greg D’Angelo on drums, James LoMenzo on bass). “Lonely Nights” in particular has always called out to me as a “forgotten classic” and would appeal to any fan of music, not just those who enjoy hard rock / heavy metal. The song begins with acoustic guitar with a slight classical influence (surely indebted to the great Yngwie Malmsteen). The band kicks in with a harder edge than you might remember from White Lion. Tramp’s vocals are emotional and evocative leading up to the stunning chorus. It almost reminds me of Del Shannon’s 1961 hit “Runaway” married to a darker pop metal song, the atmosphere is very similar. The guitar solo from Vito Bratta is breathtaking in the way skill is married to emotion. Mike Tramp went on to lead Freak of Nature, lead a solo career, and reform White Lion with new members. Vito Bratta dropped out of the music industry to care for his parents while D’Angelo and LoMenzo have performed with such luminaries as Zakk Wylde, Megadeth, David Lee Roth, and Ace Frehley. I love all the other projects (especially Mike Tramp’s solo tribute to Ronnie James Dio from 2010), but for me the original White Lion was such a special project. You might find yourself blown away by the atmosphere in this song as Mike Tramp sings these lyrics:

The little girl standing in the rain
On the corner of 42nd street
And she’s all alone on the bad side of town
Cause there was a little boy
That she loved with all her heart
But he’s far away with another girl
Now she’s searching for a friend
Just to hold her when she cries

In her lonely nights, lonely nights
Where no one seems to care

Guns N’ Roses – This I Love

Chinese Democracy

Attack of the Killer Track! is a series that explores lesser known tracks from artists from a variety of genres. Some of the tracks were singles, some of them were obscure b-sides or long forgotten album tracks. One thing is certain – all of them are killer tracks.

The running joke about Guns N’ Roses up until the actual release of 2008’s Chinese Democracy was always along the lines of whether or not the album would actually be released. Years of rumors, press releases that promised a forthcoming album, and generally odd happenings surrounding singer Axl Rose plagued the band for almost 14 years or so (curiously, a much shorter time frame than what transpired for My Bloody Valentine‘s long delayed new album). All of the build up for a record from a band that had been one of the biggest bands in the world led me to believe that the reviews from the hip review sites of the world would be fair to middling – and I was right. I don’t think the album is quite a masterpiece, though I do love it. I will say that one of my favorite Guns N’ Roses songs of all time is on this record though. “This I Love” reminds me of the early 90’s ballads that Guns N’ Roses perfected, but with one of the most heartbreaking vocal performances of Axl Rose’s career. The emotion seems to pour out of him as the piano accompanies his despair. It is a classic rock track of unrequited love and is an overlooked masterpiece. I think you’ll agree with me as you sing along with Axl Rose to these heartbreaking lyrics:

So if she’s somewhere near me
I hope to God she hears me
There’s no one else
Could ever make me feel
I’m so alive
I hoped she’d never leave me
Please God you must believe me
I’ve searched the universe
And found myself
Within’ her eyes

 

Metallica – …And Justice for All

justice

Part 39 of a series that will run every Friday throughout 2012 as I discuss records that have affected me throughout the years – Flashback Fridays

Middle School can be a strange time for a kid (or Jr. High in some school districts).  Emotions run high, new thoughts and feelings start entering the mix. School work can start to feel like…well…work.  The pressure of life and real expectations starts to build in those 6th grade, 7th grade, and 8th grade hallways. Some kids cope with this really well and seem to excel at everything they attempt. Other kids shave their heads, rebel on family trips to Washington D.C., and listen to heavy metal. I don’t think you need to be a rocket scientist to realize which group I fell into. For me, listening to heavy metal provided an escape from the mundane routines of school (I probably wouldn’t have worded it that way back then, though). Metallica was one of my favorites from that era and in particular, their album …And Justice for All.

Continue reading